Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Witchfinder: The Gates of Heaven #1 with co-creator Mike Mignola through Dark Horse Comics! As a continuing thread of the larger Hellboy universe, what can you share with us about the premise of the series?
Chris Roberson: Sir Edward Grey, occult investigator in the service of Queen Victoria, becomes aware that a series of arcane artifacts have gone missing, often in connection with strange deaths and disappearances. As he continues his investigations, he discovers that he is not the only one working in the shadows of Victoria’s England, and there are far larger issues at stake than he realized.
BD: You mentioned in an interview earlier this year that you are a big fan of stories set in Victorian-era England, most notably those with a sci-fi or supernatural bend to them. What initially intrigued you about stories set in this time period, and, as a creator, what do you relish about working within this period as it relates to Witchfinder?
CR: In many ways, Victorian England is the beginning of the modern age, or at least the most recent historical era that is very recognizable to a modern reader. Many of the genres we’re familiar with today in popular entertainment had their origins in that era, and people in Victorian times dealt with issues like expanding roles for women to the tension between innovation and tradition that still resonate with us today. But it’s still far enough removed from us that there’s a lot of creative potential in taking a story idea that might seem somewhat ordinary in a modern context, and seeing what new twists are possible when setting it in the Victorian era.
BD: How would you describe your creative process in working with Mignola and the rest of the creative team, especially given your previous work together on City of the Dead? Do you find that you have developed a creative shorthand with one another in telling new stories?
CR: Each new project is a little different, I find, but as with so many of them, The Gates of Heaven began with a series of conversations that Mike and I had over a period of months. We each had fragments of ideas for stories that were incomplete on their own, but that when combined together fused into something much more interesting. And then when D’Israeli came onboard to handle the art duties, that conversation continued in a way, as he brought his own experience with and expertise on the era and the subject matter to the table. Where we ended up was a considerable distance from where we started in those earliest conversations that Mike and I had more than two years ago, and as always the sum is greater than the whole of its parts.
BD: For fans of the Hellboy universe and the stories of Sir Edward Grey, is there anything that you can share about what is in store for readers in this new series?
CR: While Sir Edward’s Victorian England is very much a self-contained world, and it’s entirely possible for someone to read only the Witchfinder series and completely understand what’s happening. It’s still part of that larger Hellboy universe, and there are a considerable number of connections that we explore this time out between the case that Sir Edward is investigating and things that we be familiar to long term readers of Hellboy and the various BPRD titles.
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
CR: I can’t say too much without running the risk of spoiling things, but we have some cool stuff in the works for forthcoming Hellboy and The BPRD stories involving collaborators with some fantastic artists who are new to the Hellboy universe, as well as lots and lots of moving parts.
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Witchfinder: The Gates of Heaven and your other work?
CR: I can usually be found on Twitter (@chris_roberson), but I’m likely to talk about cartoons and TV shows that I enjoy and other comics that I’m reading there as I am about my own work.